About That Pipeline Protest You May Not Have Heard About

About That Pipeline Protest You May Not Have Heard About August 30, 2016


(Image via Pixabay)

As some of you might have guessed I am little conflicted about writing in response to the news- sometimes I do, other weeks I fall silent. I haven’t necessarily settled that I like writing about news, but by now regular readers will know what all my friends have already learned to their sorrow –  I don’t know how to shut up if I think something needs saying (or even might be worth saying). In this instance I will mostly let the news speak for itself and trust that you can investigate further if so inclined.

Before I do that, a threefold note. First a thank you to Kevin M. Johnson of The Inner Room for sharing this article on social media to begin with or I wouldn’t have likely noticed it. Second, while there may be debates about environmental impact and such that I lack the background to comment on with any authority it is worth remembering that the most monied interest is usually the one with the most to hide- and that if they were absolutely on the up and up in this instance they’d have a vested interest in making sure we knew all the facts and could see that for ourselves. Third, who shredding cares about environmental impact- haven’t North American first peoples had enough extorted from them over the years without taking more?

I don’t know that I completely agree with the site posting this news item or the tone of their article. But I did find the matter a compelling social justice concern that certainly needs greater awareness and I found the analysis of a specific media bias towards encouraging and exploiting national polarization in general and the application of that analysis to this instance convincing.

“Native Americans standing up for themselves is not polarizing. In an age of institutionalized media divisiveness and hyper-partisanship, the story of Native Americans in North Dakota fighting for land and water rights just doesn’t fit the script of deep, societal divides plaguing the nation’s law and order, nor does it fit in with the left-right paradigm. People from both sides of the political spectrum pretty much agree that Native Americans have been screwed by the U.S. government and resource-snatching corporations long enough. Considering this sentiment, there’s really no exploitable controversy on this issue from the mainstream media perspective, which inherently drives topical, superficial news narratives.

It’s easy to create a controversy out of right-wing white nationalist militias occupying an obscure federal wildlife preserve building (if that sounds petty and not exactly newsworthy, that’s because it was petty and not exactly newsworthy). I witnessed liberals so incensed by the Oregon occupiers they were calling for the FBI to literally gun them down. Meanwhile, the alt-right movement hailed them as heroes and harbingers of the second American Revolution. It made for a great, divisive controversy. But in the end, nothing was accomplished. It was topical. It was superficial. It was essentially meaningless — and the media loved it so much it dedicated a month’s worth of prime time TV coverage to it.

In contrast, the only thing the mainstream media would accomplish by publicizing the growing tribal opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline would be to effectively kill the prospects of the pipeline. Providing ongoing coverage would likely inspire national outrage toward the oil company, Dakota Access LLC, and the government agencies currently trying to evict the indigenous people from their own ancestral lands.

You can read the rest here. (Regular readers will already have some idea of my views on a similar polarization dynamic in an ecclesiastical context and its theologically abhorrent nature.)

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